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Diagnosis: Murder (1975)

A psychiatrist plots to murder his wife so he can be with his mistress, but his wife mysteriously disappears before he can carry out his plan.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Det. Insp. Lomax
...
Helen
...
Dr. Stephen Hayward
Tony Beckley ...
Sgt. Greene
Dilys Hamlett ...
Julia Hayward
...
Mary Dawson
...
Bob Dawson
David Trevena ...
Johnson
Adrian Cairns ...
Morgan
Daphne Neville ...
Nurse Fisher
Hugh Smith-Marriott ...
Dr. Chapman
Hubert Tucker ...
Ronalds
David Langford ...
Gray
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Storyline

A psychiatrist plots to murder his wife so he can be with his mistress, but his wife mysteriously disappears before he can carry out his plan.

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Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief sexual content | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

11 June 1976 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Der See der verstümmelten Leichen  »

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(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Last cinema film to be directed by Sidney Hayers. See more »

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User Reviews

 
DIAGNOSIS: MURDER (Sidney Hayers, 1975) ***
29 July 2015 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I had long wanted to check out this British thriller (mainly because the Leonard Maltin Movie Guide gave it a surprisingly favourable write-up) co-starring Christopher Lee – but had been wary of the prospect since all the sources I have checked give the film's running-time as 95 minutes, whereas the only available print lasted for only 83!; with the actor's recent passing, I acquired it regardless to include in my ongoing tribute. Having watched it now, I pretty much agree with Maltin's opinion – but, to be fair, for most of the duration I was prone to slash off half-a-star from the rating; the reason for this is the fact that the film-making on display is essentially no different to what was contemporaneously being proposed on TV: one would expect a theatrical release from this era – particularly since British cinema was virtually in the doldrums by then – to include a modicum of sex and violence, but these are hardly in evidence (if at all)! As I came to learn after the fact, the film was indeed intended for TV but was released theatrically anyway; whatever the case, the opening abduction sequence plays out like something out of the cult espionage TV series THE AVENGERS (1961-69)!

The premise is straightforward and typical, but nonetheless engaging (if somewhat improbable): the wealthy wife of a doctor (Lee) goes missing and he comes under suspicion, especially since he may be carrying on an affair with his secretary (Judy Geeson); the police investigation is handled by a gaunt-looking Jon Finch (due to an as-yet untreated diabetic condition) who, apart from keeping his hair long and drinking on the job, is struggling with 'domestic' problems of his own (he contemplates quitting girlfriend Jane Merrow, who is forced to tend to her ungrateful crippled husband). Eventually, it transpires that Lee is really guilty – with Geeson soon made an unwitting accomplice – and wants to inherit his spouse's fortune (whom he keeps hidden away in a remote countryside place, leased under an alias, and is slowly poisoning); at one point, he tries to explain himself to his lover by saying that he does not have 40 years to live that he can comfortably wait for what is lawfully coming to him – in hindsight, it is quite moving to realize that Lee had exactly that amount of time at his disposal before passing away! Despite having a full schedule of patients and with a policeman constantly tailing him, the doctor is regularly able to flee his workplace in order to carry out this nefarious plan with relative ease (indeed, Lee's portrayal is perennially cool and collected – albeit with a barely-disguised sadistic streak).

The film is certainly enjoyable along the way (though the ostensibly redundant subplot involving Merrow's plight is admittedly dull) and is aided immeasurably by Laurie Johnson's pulsating score; what really gives DIAGNOSIS: MURDER (nothing to do, incidentally, with the much-later and long-running TV show starring Dick Van Dyke) its raison d'etre, however, is the clever double twist at the climax (the first of which recalls to some degree the ending of TASTE OF FEAR {1961}, also with Lee) and the second proving quite cynical (stressing the comparable situations plaguing both hero and villain within the narrative).


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